Cardiomyopathy describes disorders of and deterioration of the heart muscle itself. This runs in families, where more than one family member may be affected and some family members may not be affected at all. There are many types of cardiomyopathy, each having its own causes, treatments and preventative methods. Common types of cardiomyopathy include:

Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) – this is where the heart muscle becomes weakened (thin and floppy – dilated) and the heart enlarged. It cannot pump effectively and can be caused by many different medical problems.

Restrictive Cardiomyopathy – this describes a group of disorders where the heart muscles stiffens and affects the heart chambers which are unable to fill properly with blood.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) – this is where the heart muscle becomes thickened which in turn makes it difficult for blood to leave the heart and therefore the heart has to work harder to pump blood around the body.

CAUSES of cardiomyopathy:

These are many and may include genetic defects, infections due to viruses, long term severe hypertension, nutritional defects, alcoholism and cocaine use, pregnancy, chemotherapy drugs and various diseases such as end stage kidney disease.

Symptoms and signs may be similar to those of almost any form of heart disease. Chest pain is common. Other symptoms may include palpitations, breathlessness, dizziness and fainting.

Mild cardiomyopathy is often asymptomatic whereas severe cases are associated with heart failure and arrhythmias.

TREATMENT of cardiomyopathy:

Once the type of cardiomyopathy has been identified and possible reasons, treatment often focuses on easing symptoms and preventing complications. Indeed treatment may include lifestyle changes such as avoidance of alcohol, to medical therapy, pacemakers, and sometimes surgical intervention such as ablation (for the treatment of arrhythmias) or even heart transplantation in some cases.